Perkins+Will Selected for New CWRU University Center

Architecture firm with extensive experience in higher education working on design

News Release: Friday, April 29, 2011


CLEVELAND – Devotion to modernism and creation of structures that enhance the environment are among the notable traits of Perkins+Will, the architecture and design firm selected for the Tinkham Veale University Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

“After a rigorous search, we’re pleased to announce that Perkins+Will will lead the university center design process,” said Stephen M. Campbell, Case Western Reserve’s vice president for campus planning and facilities management. “The company’s vast experience and commitment to sustainability are great assets as we work to create a space that will enhance community life on campus.”

During the past 20 years, Perkins+Will, which turned 75 years old last year, has worked creatively with more than 250 colleges and universities across the United States and internationally.

“Through an extremely thorough and interesting selection process, we are delighted that the university selected our firm,” said Kenneth Rohlfing, a Perkins+Will principal, architect and the firm’s market sector leader for higher education in its Chicago office. “We're leading the project, but we have staff from our Atlanta and Minneapolis offices making significant contributions.”

The Perkins+Will principal leading the project’s design is Ralph Johnson, who is director of design for the entire firm.

“He has a long history of award-winning design,” Rohlfing said. “Each of his buildings speaks to the culture and place it inhabits.”

More than 160 student organizations are housed in various locations on the Case Western Reserve campus, including Thwing Center, the current student center. Thwing serves as home to the university's bookstore, meeting rooms, offices and a dining area. Students and administrators long have agreed on the need for additional space, and the 1998 campus master plan identified the construction of a new center as a university priority. Upon her arrival in 2007, President Barbara Snyder affirmed the importance of the project.

Case Western Reserve’s new building will be located near Severence Hall and the university’s Kelvin Smith Library.

“The center will serve a wide audience, and we have to address all their needs while creating a great piece of architecture,” Rohlfing said. “It's a complicated and challenging site at the crossroads of the campus. We need to be concerned with how the building is sited and how it interacts with adjacent buildings.”

The university center was announced in May 2010 with a $20 million lead gift from The Veale Foundation to name the center for the foundation’s founder, Case Institute of Technology alumnus Tinkham Veale II. Additional crucial support includes a $10.5 million gift from The Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust and a $7 million commitment from the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation.

Construction is expected to start in spring 2012. Campbell said the planned university center’s energy usage will be 30 percent less than comparable building types.

“It will embody the CWRU culture of technology in learning, social and public spaces,” Campbell said. “This won’t be an opaque building standing in the middle of a field. It will be very connected to the outside. It could open up dramatically to the exterior.”